It’s surreal that we have not one, but two, major Star Wars shows running simultaneously right now on Disney+ with The Mandalorian and The Bad Batch!
And while The Mandalorian will dominate the headlines, the best episode of the week may just belong to The Bad Batch. But, of course, it doesn’t need to be a competition, and we can enjoy both of them! The point is simply to not sleep on this series, because on Wednesday it delivered one of the very best episodes of the entire show to-date.
Let’s dive in to “Metamorphosis,” the eleventh episode of season two and one that just adds to the feeling that this series is a true successor to The Clone Wars. As always, full spoilers are ahead!
Aboard a damaged Imperial transport in space, a Clone Commando flees an unknown terror, but is eventually caught and killed. On Mount Tantiss, a new Imperial scientist, Doctor Royce Hemlock, arrives to oversee the cloning operations and orders that the missing transport be recovered. He then speaks with Nala Se, who is imprisoned in the facility, but she refuses to help, saying she knows what Palpatine wants.
Meanwhile, aboard their ship the Bad Batch speaks with Cid over hologram, furious with her refusal to help them escape. She offers them another job, with a 50/50 split, after receiving word of an abandoned transport. They begrudgingly accept, with Tech suggesting taking one last mission could be a way of leaving Cid without turning her against them and making an enemy. So they follow Cid’s coordinates to an inhabited planet where the ship crash-landed, and they investigate. They stumble upon the creature, a young Zillo Beast, and they have to try to flee for their lives. In an effort to save themselves, the team lets the beast escape into the wild.
Hunter and Wrecker board the ship and try to track it down, while Tech and Omega stay on the cruiser recovering data. Tech discovers that it’s the same kind of creature that attacked Coruscant during the war, and that the beast feeds on power. By the time he relays the message to Hunter, however, it’s too late, and the Zillo has grown exponentially in size and threatens the nearby village. While the Havoc Marauder tries to stop the beast, an Imperial fleet arrives and dispatches a host of gunships. The ships subdue the Zillo, while others pursue the Bad Batch. The squad is able to make a quick escape, but the citizens of the town are not so luck. Clone Commandos arrive and begin rounding up the citizens, taking them away in transports while the Zillo is secured aboard another one.
They take the Zillo Beast to Mount Tantiss, where it is kept deep in the mountain. The former Kaminoan Prime Minister, Lama Su, arrives in a prisoner transfer from Coruscant, and he meets with Hemlock. The Doctor wants to make Nala Se cooperate, and Lama Su offers info toward this end in exchange for his freedom, telling Hemlock that the key to controlling Nala Se is to find a special clone that was made, a young girl.
Thirteen years ago, a two-episode arc of The Clone Wars introduced us to a creature known as the Zillo Beast, with armor so impenetrable that blasters and even lightsabers were ineffective. The creature was brought to Coruscant for testing, but it escaped and caused terror throughout the city, climbing the Senate building. A way was found to kill it with a toxic gas, and that is what the Republic forces reluctantly did. In the aftermath, Chancellor Palpatine made a secret request, much to the surprise of the scientist overseeing the operation: he wanted the beast cloned.
That story thread has lingered ever since, with fans wondering what exactly came of this secret cloning operation, and now we’re actually seeing it play out in The Bad Batch, which is thrilling. It feels like a perfectly natural way for it to be explored, too, since the series focuses on a group of clones – and has often hinted at more going on than we knew with cloning. That’s long been one of the most exciting elements of this show for me, and this episode delivered in big ways.
We returned to Mount Tantiss (after it was seen in the finale of season one) and I can’t get enough of this facility – especially since it’s got a rich history in Legends of cloning too. With the Zillo Beast hidden deep in the mountain, I can’t help but wonder what other secrets are contained within it as well. Plus, it seems the Kaminoans (or at least Nala Se) are aware of Palpatine’s cloning plans, which is interesting. The Empire wants their help, and whatever the plan is, it seems to involve the Zillo Beast.
Which makes sense, given that the armor is resistant to most weapons. I wonder if some of this could even connect down the road to thinks like the Dark Trooper project, which although susceptible to lightsabers is impervious to blaster fire. There’s a lot of mystery behind this, but there’s probably more going on too, knowing that Palpatine’s long-term idea is to clone himself. Is that his main goal that Nala Se knows about? If so, perhaps the Kaminoan refusal to help is the reason his plans ultimately don’t work out as well.
This episode was a perfect example of how the show can explore more of the early Empire galaxy in thrilling ways that make perfect sense in-universe, much like the two-episode midseason story about the clones. To use a series about clones to explore the phasing out of clones is great, but it’s also great to use a series about clones to explore more of Palpatine’s sinister and mysterious cloning efforts.
I loved the intrigue and tension and terror of this episode, with a dreaded threat lurking only to be revealed as the Zillo. It played out very well, and to see the Bad Batch come into play shows their growth as well. It seems they’re finally done with Cid, which is a welcome change, but Tech points out the danger they’re in if they were to make an enemy with someone who knows too much about them. I think it’s perfectly logical that they’re ready to break away but now have to figure out how to do it. They’re coming to realize that they can’t really trust Cid, but there’s more at play than just that: they’re coming to realize that they can’t just stand aside and try to hide away. The Empire is ruthless, and even people just minding their own business can become victims of their oppression, like the citizens of this planet who are rounded up by the Empire simply for being on their home planet when one of the Empire’s own projects turned into one of the Empire’s own mistakes and wound up hurting the people. It wasn’t their fault, but they pay the price for it anyway, because the Empire cares more about protecting their secrets and their power than helping their people.
The Bad Batch doesn’t actually see that happening, but they nonetheless have come to realize similar things this season. There’s been a growing frustration with their inactivity in regards to the fight, such that Echo left to join Rex, but all of that frustration makes the moment where Hunter tells Tech to send the info to Rex and Echo all the more satisfying. Omega is clearly thrilled, and so are we. It seems to me like a major step showing that Hunter is coming to recognize their true mission and ability to be in the fight.
Which they’re going to have to do whether they’re ready or not, because unbeknownst to them, the Empire’s attention, led by Doctor Hemlock, is zeroed in on them once more. Hemlock orders the Clone Commando Scorch (who also has a long Legends history and is confirmed in the credits as Scorch for the first time in this series) to track down the ship that escaped – which, though they don’t know it, was the ship belonging to the Bad Batch. But Lama Su also tells them to find the clone girl as a means of getting to Nala Se’s heart, which means that they’re also hunting Omega. I imagine this is where Crosshair will come into play again; we’ve only seen him in one episode this season, but with the need to find Omega they may turn to him once more.
Because of all of that, I don’t think we’ve seen the end of Mount Tantiss this season. Perhaps that’s where the Empire wants to bring Omega, and since the Bad Batch already wants to know where the Zillo Beast was taken, if they learn the location they may try to do something about it.
In short, this was one of my very favorite episodes of the series, and it could truly be said that it was 13 years in the making for Star Wars fans. I’m incredibly intrigued by the whole Tantiss storyline, and I hope that we’ll see more of it as the season nears the end.